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Travel is returning, cautiously, as vaccination rates rise in the United States. That means now is a good time to look at credit cards offering travel rewards. Among those, there are a few that cost a lot more than most others in annual fees, but offer a lot more perks — like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Credit Card.
Both are solid options for travelers looking for a more luxurious experience, and both should be, given the high annual fees they carry — $695 (See Rates & Fees) for the American Express Platinum and $495 for the Citi Prestige. Both offer perks like lounge access, travel credits, hotel elite status, and more.
The Citi Prestige’s Fourth Night Free benefit can save you hundreds of dollars per year — if you are the kind of traveler that can take advantage of it.
But there are some key differences between the two.
Here’s how they stack up against each other, so you can decide which might be a better fit for your financial and travel goals.
Side by Side Comparison
|Amex Platinum||Citi Prestige|
|Welcome Offer||100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership||50,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership|
|Bonus Points||10x points on eligible purchases on at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.; 5x on flights booked directly with airlines or at American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year); 5x on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1x on other purchases||5x on airlines, travel agencies and restaurants; 3x on hotels and cruise lines; 1x on everything else|
|Credits||Up to $200 airline incidental fee credit; up to $200 Uber Cash annually for U.S. rides and Uber Eats; up to 12-month complimentary membership to Uber Eats; up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit (up to $50 semi-annually); up to $200 hotel credit as an annual statement credit for prepaid bookings through the Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel; $240 in annual statement credits ($20 per month) on purchases or subscriptions with Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock; $179 annual statement credit for a Clear membership; $300 in annual statement credits ($25 per month) on select Equinox memberships or a digital subscriptions to Equinox+, an on-demand fitness app||Up to $250 travel statement credit (including airlines, hotels, rental cars, travel agencies and more)|
|Travel Perks||American Express Global Lounge Collection access; Delta SkyClub access when flying Delta; Gold Status with Hilton and Marriott; up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit; Priority Pass lounge access||Fourth night free when booking through ThankYou.com, twice per year; up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit; Priority Pass lounge access|
While a card’s welcome offer, also known as a sign-up bonus, shouldn’t be your only consideration for applying, it certainly plays a big part.
The Amex Platinum currently has a welcome offer of 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months after opening your account. You can redeem these points for travel via the Amex Travel portal or by transferring them to partners such as Delta Air Lines and Marriott.
On the other hand, the Citi Prestige card currently has a welcome offer of 50,000 ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. You can redeem ThankYou points for travel via the ThankYou.com portal, or transfer them to partners such as JetBlue, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic.
Citi Prestige® Credit Card
- Intro bonus:50,000 points
- Annual fee:$495
- Regular APR:16.99% – 23.99% variable APR based on your creditworthiness*
- Recommended credit:740-850 (Excellent)
- Learn more at our partner’s secure site.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Intro bonus:60,000 points
- Annual fee:$550
- Regular APR:16.99%-23.99% Variable
- Recommended credit:740-850 (Excellent)
- Learn more at our partner’s secure site.
Each card also offers bonus points on certain categories of spending.
The Amex Platinum earns 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines or via AmexTravel.com, and 1x on everything else. During your first six months of card membership, the card earns 10x on purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small® in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases.
The Citi Prestige card also earns 5x on airlines, as well as on spending at travel agencies, but adds an important category with an elevated bonus, since it earns 5x points at restaurants. It earns 3x on hotels and cruise lines, and 1x on everything else.
Both cards have a relatively high APR. The Amex Platinum has a variable APR of 15.99% to 22.99% variable, and the Citi Prestige also has a variable APR of 16.74% to- 24.74%.
We recommend paying your bills on time and in full every month if you can afford to do so, to avoid paying interest at these high rates — otherwise, interest spending can negate the value of the rewards you earn.
Both are premium travel rewards credit cards, with fees to match. The Amex Platinum carries a $695 annual fee, and the Citi Prestige carries a $495 annual fee.
While the fees are steep, you can find value even in high-fee cards if you can take advantage of the perks they offer, which can be worth more than those fees. Otherwise, we suggest you stick with lower-fee or even no-annual-fee cards.
How to Decide Between the Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige
Both of these credit cards come with a solid list of perks and benefits, and can offer a lot of value to frequent travelers. They differ, however, mostly in their earnings structure and in the protections they offer in case of travel disruptions.
With earnings on airfare at the same 5x level for both cards, you could be swayed in favor of the Citi card by the 5x points at restaurants versus one point per dollar for the Amex — or you could be swayed the other way by the huge 10x bonus on restaurants and at small businesses that the Amex has, up to $25,000 in combined purchases, for the first six months.
But if you value travel protections — essentially, you’ll be reimbursed for disruptions if you paid for the tickets with a card offering that benefit — then you have a clear favorite in the Amex Platinum.
If you don’t travel frequently, or don’t plan to use the perks of either card, you likely will be better off with another card altogether.
The Amex Platinum offers cardholders free access to its Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges around the world. You can also access Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta, on the same day of your flight. The card also offers access to the Priority Pass network of airport lounges worldwide, which has more than 1,000 lounges.
On the other hand, the Citi Prestige Card only comes with complimentary Priority Pass lounge access. While most are less luxurious than Amex-branded lounges, Priority Pass lounges are found in far more places, and are worlds better than waiting for your flight at the gate or a noisy airport restaurant — plus food is generally free in airport lounges.
Transferring Points to Hotels and Airlines
With both cards, you’ll earn what’s known as “transferable points,” meaning points that you can transfer to hotels and airlines to use for free travel. Amex points are called “Membership Rewards points” and Citi points are known as “ThankYou points.”
Each issuer has a handful of “transfer partners,” as in hotels or airlines to which you can transfer those points. For example, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta and Marriott, and you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to JetBlue and Emirates. If you intend to fly on a specific airline or stay at a specific hotel, make sure that it’s a transfer partner of the card you choose.
Both cards also give you access to what’s known as travel portals, where instead of transferring points to an airline or hotel, you can redeem them directly through the card issuer’s site. It’s relatively easier than transferring, but you’ll usually get less value out of your points by doing this.
Both the Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige come with travel credits that you can use to save money either at hotels or on airlines.
For example, the Amex Platinum comes with a $200 airline fee credit which can be used for things like checked baggage fees on your selected airline. It is a fairly narrow benefit. It also recently introduced additional perks, including a $200 annual credit on prepaid bookings through the Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel, as well as a $179 credit for a Clear membership.
The Citi Prestige, though, comes with a broad $250 annual travel credit that can be used across airlines, hotels, travel agencies, car rental services and more.
Both of these credits, though, can help knock down the prices of the card’s annual fee.
Other Perks and Credits
The Amex Platinum comes with up to a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit (up to $50 every six months per calendar year).
While it isn’t a credit, the Citi Prestige has a unique benefit known as the Fourth Night Free. With this, you can get your fourth night for free at virtually any hotel in the world, twice per year. To do so, you must book through ThankYou.com. This perk is very useful for people who tend to stay at hotels for relatively long periods, and it could even pay for the card all by itself if used for a luxury hotel, where the nightly rate can be higher than the Prestige’s $495 annual fee.
In September 2019, Citi removed travel protections from the Prestige card. That means the card no longer offers valuable features such as worldwide car rental insurance; trip cancellation and interruption insurance; delay protection insurance, which pays for your expenses if your trip is delayed; worldwide travel accident insurance; lost and delayed baggage protection; and more.
The Amex Platinum card, on the other hand, comes with travel protections such as car rental loss and damage insurance, baggage insurance plan, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and trip delay coverage.
This is one key benefit area where the Amex Platinum card clearly outshines the Citi Prestige in value for people who travel often.
The Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige cards are travel cards that can help you have a more luxurious travel experience. Both come with benefits like lounge access and a $100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit, but vary in terms of travel credits, transfer partners and other perks.
A huge distinction between the two is that the American Express card offers travel insurance and protections that the Citi card does not, while the latter earns a lot more points at restaurants. Keep this in mind when deciding which one fits your lifestyle better.
When deciding for any credit card, we always recommend looking at your budget and spending habits — and travel preferences, if it’s a travel rewards card. Doing so can help you find the card that better matches your unique situation and goals, and it will help you decide if the benefits offset the annual fee the card may charge.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for some American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.